John Carroll Lynch is a character actor and filmmaker from America who has garnered popularity for his performances in TV shows like ‘The Drew Carey Show’, ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’, and ‘American Horror Story: Cult’ and films like ‘Farge’, ‘Face/Off’, ‘Gran Torino’, ‘Shutter Island’, and ‘Zodiac’. A Colorado native, Lynch has always been interested in performing. He was a student of The Catholic University of America, from where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1986. He began his professional career on stage, as a member of Guthrie Theater Company. Lynch made his screen debut in 1993 in the romance drama ‘Grumpy Old Men’. He had his small screen debut in the 1995 telefilm ‘In the Line of Duty: Hunt for Justice’. In 2017, his first directorial venture, the comedy-drama ‘Lucky’, was released. The film garnered several awards while it made the rounds on the festival circuit.
In the early days of his career, John Carroll Lynch was part of the Guthrie Theater Company. For eight seasons, he was affiliated with them, performing in numerous productions and touring all over the country.
Lynch’s first screen role was in Donald Petrie’s romance drama film ‘Grumpy Old Men’ in 1993. Also starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret, the film tells the story of the lifelong animosity between two neighbours that worsens when a new woman comes to reside in the neighbourhood. In the film, Lynch was cast as a moving man. His next film was the 1995 drama film ‘The Cure’.
His first small screen appearance was in the 1995 telefilm ‘In the Line of Duty: Hunt for Justice’, in which he was cast as a major. In the 1996 romance drama ‘Beautiful Girls’, he portrayed the role of Frank Womack. That year, he delivered his breakthrough performance as Norm Gunderson, the husband of Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), in the Coen brothers’ black comedy-drama film ‘Fargo’. He worked with Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, and Gaby Hoffmann in the 1997 disaster movie ‘Volcano’. That year, he also appeared in John Woo’s science fiction action film ‘Face/Off’, portraying a prison guard named Walton. In Josef Rusnak’s thriller drama ‘No Strings Attached’ (1997), he was cast as a priest.
While he was predominantly active on the big screen, Lynch continued to play various roles in telefilms and made guest appearances in some of the most popular TV shows at the time, including ‘Murder One’, ‘Frasier’, and ‘The Practice’. In 1997, he began playing Steve Carey, the brother of the eponymous character of the ABC sitcom ‘The Drew Carey Show’. Introduced in the ninth episode of the third season, the character is a cross-dresser in the early part of the series. However, he later gives it up to make his wife happy. While Lynch left the show in season eight in 2003, he made guest appearances in two episodes of the ninth season.
In 2005, he portrayed convicted criminal and murderer Varlyn Stroud in the season two of HBO’s ‘Carnivàle’. He appeared as Twisty the Clown in two seasons (‘Freak Show’ and ‘Cult’) of FX’s horror anthology series ‘American Horror Story’. According to director Ryan Murphy, Lynch’s performance was so believable that the crew was terrified of him.
Over the course of his career, Lynch has gotten the opportunity to work with some of the best directors in Hollywood. He worked with David Fincher in the drama thriller ‘Zodiac’ (2007), Clint Eastwood in the drama thriller ‘Gran Torino’ (2008), and Martin Scorsese in neo-noir psychological thriller ‘Shutter Island’ (2010). In 2016, he essayed the role of former US President Lyndon B. Johnson in the biographical drama ‘Jackie’ and the McDonald’s co-founder Mac McDonald in ‘The Founder’.
Lynch made his directorial debut in 2017 with the indie comedy-drama ‘Lucky’. The film stars late actor Harry Dean Stanton as the eponymous character, who, at the age of ninety and despite being a lifelong atheist, embarks on a spiritual journey. The film received significant critical acclaim and won a number of awards, including the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 American Film Festival, Lost Weekend Award for Best Director at the 2017 Film Club’s Lost Weekend, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Award at the 2017 Locarno International Film Festival, and Special Achievement Award at the 2017 Satellite Awards.
As an actor, he has won multiple awards for his outing as Early Landry in the 2017 indie film ‘Anything’. In 2018, he played the role of the series protagonist Bud Carl in the short-lived CBS All Access mystery thriller drama series ‘One Dollar’.
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Family & Personal Life
Born on August 1, 1963, in Boulder, Colorado, USA, Lynch grew up alongside his brother Daniel. After graduating from Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, he enrolled at The Catholic University of America and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater in 1986.
In 1997, Lynch exchanged wedding vows with actress Brenda Wehle, who is also a Guthrie Theater Company alumna. Through her, Lynch is the stepfather of Emily Wehle and Sarah Wehle.